Build a Powerful Body with these 20 Training Tweaks

Build a Powerful Body with these 20 Training Tweaks

Below are the top 20 inside tips to build a powerful body and get into the greatest shape of your life!

Exercise in Order

Use dumbbells, barbells, and machines;in that order. “The smaller, stabilizer muscles you use with dumbbells fatigue before your larger muscle groups,” says Charles Staley, a strength coach in Las Vegas. So progress to machines, which require less help from your smaller muscles, as you grow tired.

Muscle Up Your Back

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When doing lat pulldowns, don’t wrap your thumb around the bar. Instead, place it on top, alongside your index finger. This decreases the involvement of your arm muscles, so you’ll work your back harder. Works for pullups, too.

Lose Your Weak Spot

If you don’t like an exercise, start doing it. “You’re probably avoiding it because you’re weak at it,” says Michael Mejia, C.S.C.S., Men’s Health exercise advisor.

Turn Heads With Your Legs

Do standing and seated calf raises. You’ll get better results. “Your calves are made up of two different muscles, so you have to do the straight-leg and the bent-leg versions of the exercise to hit them both,” says Mejia.

Build Big Biceps

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Bend your wrists to work your biceps harder. That is, extend them backward slightly—and hold them that way — while you do arm curls.

Ditch the Weight Belt

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Don’t train with a weight belt. Over time, regular training in a weight belt actually weakens your abdominal and lower-back muscles. Wear it only when attempting maximal lifts in such exercises as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses.

Double Dip Benefits

Do dips with your elbows in and your body straight to work your triceps. But lean forward and flare them out to focus on your chest.

Build Arms Faster

Work opposing muscle groups — your biceps and triceps, for instance — back-to-back for a faster workout. “While one muscle is working, the other is forced to rest,” says Staley. You won’t need as much time between sets.

Do More Chinups

Don’t think about pulling yourself up when you do chinups. Instead, imagine pulling your elbows down. The exercise will seem easier.

Multiply Your Muscles

Follow this simple formula to build more muscle: Multiply the amount of weight you lift for a particular exercise by the total number of times you lift it. Try to increase that number every workout by lifting heavier weights, increasing your repetitions, or doing more sets.

Sit Back, Squat More

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Use a bench to squat with perfect form. That is, stand in front of the bench when you squat. Lower yourself as if you were sitting down. When your butt touches the bench, push yourself back up. Try it with a light bar or a broomstick first.

Get Stronger Legs

Do lunges in reverse. This forces your front leg to work throughout the entire exercise. Use the same movement pattern as in a traditional lunge, but step backward instead of forward.

Squeeze Out Gains

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Squeeze the bar inward when you bench-press. This works more muscles in your chest. But squeeze it outward when you do the close-grip version of the exercise &mdash this hits your triceps harder.

Go Light, Get Strong

Lift light weights fast to build strength. Your muscles will generate as much force as if you were lifting a heavier weight more slowly. Try it with the bench press: Use a weight that’s 40 to 60 percent of what you can lift one time, and do eight sets of three repetitions, pushing the weight up as fast as possible. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Exercise one arm at a time. Do a set of shoulder presses with your left arm, then do a set with your right. “You’ll get higher-quality sets than if you work both arms at the same time,” says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S., a trainer in Canada.

Flex for Muscle

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When doing standing arm curls, completely straighten your arms by flexing your triceps at the end of each repetition. This ensures that you work the muscle through its entire range of motion.

Build Quality Quads

Push from your toes when you do leg presses. Your quadriceps will work harder.

Get a Better Grip

To strengthen your grip, wrap a towel around the bar when you do arm curls. It makes the bar thicker, which forces your forearm muscles to work harder.

Improve Your Max

Before you try a maximal lift, load the bar with a weight that’s 20 to 30 percent heavier than what you think you can handle. Then simply lift it off the rack, hold for 1 to 2 seconds, and put it back. Wait 3 to 4 minutes, then try your true max &mdash the weight will feel noticeably lighter. Never attempt this without a spotter.

Build Real Strength

Don’t use machine weights exclusively. A study at Georgia State University found that older adults using exercise machines improved their strength on the machines an average of 34 percent in 2 years. But their strength measures for everyday activities actually declined 3.5 percent.

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